To many diners, "steakhouse" means expensive prime steaks and colossal lobster tails, linen-covered tables and squadrons of hustling servers.
At the Galveston Steakhouse and Pub in Lancaster, diners should understand that it's not that kind of steakhouse. There is steak on the menu, but it's a neighborhood place. The food and overall ambience are much closer to the "pub" part of the name.
That's nothing to be ashamed of, because this relatively new establishment offers customers some excellent dinner values. It's a cut above standard tavern food, with better-than-average cooking coming out of the kitchen.
First, the steaks. The filet was listed at $24.95, and for $27.95, a 22-ounce "cowboy steak" -- a bone-in ribeye, while prime rib is offered at $12.95 and $21.95 increments.
There are also burgers, deep-fried alligator bites and baby back ribs ($13.95/$20.95). Thursdays are barbecue night with pulled beef, barbecued chicken and more.
We ordered fried pickles ($6.95), since we enjoy them, though are usually disappointed by inept frying. The spinach bacon salad ($8.95) seemed like the oasis of greenery we'd need amid all the protein.
I had beef on the brain and asked for a cowboy steak, but our helpful server informed me they were out. The kitchen suggested a slab of prime rib, she said, spiced and seared ($21.95 for the "king cut"). After confirming I could still have it medium rare, I accepted.
Cat chose the fried chicken dinner, described as a pair of pounded, buttermilk fried breasts ($12.95).
Our pickles arrived hot, four spears with a bit of peppery ranch dressing. The dill wedges had been cooked long enough to result in pleasantly softened interiors and crispy batter. The coating stuck to the pickle with every bite, richness set against puckery insides. They never had a chance to cool off.
The spinach salad was exceedingly simple but a bacon lover's dream, showered in thin, crunchy bacon flakes that practically melted away. Shredded cheese, thinly sliced onion, and nothing else I could see, but that was fine with me. When I asked for a second type of dressing, our server brought it swiftly.
The dinners were far more than we could eat. My prime rib was cooked accurately, and tender throughout, though I expected more pepper bite from its "blackening" spice coat. The little cup of "jus" tasted like beef base, but I didn't need it.
Crowding the plate was a massive baked potato. Loaded with sour cream and two pats of Land O'Lakes butter, it could probably have been dinner by itself. My vegetable medley, including broccoli, zucchini, yellow squash and red peppers, was more crunchy than tender, but I'll take that over mushy steam-table vegetables.
Cat's chicken was beautifully bronzed, clad in a rippling crust that actually crackled when she cut it. "Crunchy as hell," she said, as a compliment.
I stopped cutting my beef and started stealing her chicken. Even so, we both took half our meat home. Dessert? Impossible.
After enjoying the chicken, I went back and looked at the menu again, but it wasn't there: country fried steak. The cook who made my chicken certainly seemed capable of a great one, which Western New York lacks.
I didn't find any surprises on the Galveston menu -- but I was surprised by how solid the kitchen's performance was during our visit.
Galveston Steakhouse and Pub
DESCRIPTION: No surprises on the menu of this Lancaster newcomer, but kitchen turns out above-average pub food.
WHERE: 99 Aurora St., Lancaster (684-0246)
HOURS: Dinner served from 3 to 9 p.m. daily; bar menu until midnight.
PRICE RANGE: Appetizers and salads, $3.95-$9.95. Entrees $12.95-$27.95.
PARKING: In the lot. WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes